Fall is the most fun season to write in and about. I have exhausted the famous Hemingway quote to F. Scott Fitzgerald in one of their letters, used it time and time again in this column until I’m sure readers are so sick of it they’ve either memorized it or repressed it along with a certain gag response associated with the very word “Hemingway.” I can’t risk using it again or the dear and constant reader will certainly upchuck, groan, plotz yet again after seeing “The summer is a discouraging time to write. You don’t feel death in the air the way you do in the fall when the boys really get their pens moving.” It would, and I’m forced to agree, be too much one more time around.
And yet “discouraging” is hardly the word. “Anathema” would be more like it, as in “Summer is anathema to writers.” The death part about autumn is literally true.
While I am waiting for death, I am wringing out sopping old T-shirts and stuffing them under the air conditioner’s faulty condenser. Damn! I should have used that as the opening sentence. I could cut and paste, but I didn’t, and fair is fair, so I’ll leave it.
While I’m being honest (not as unusual as the bastards say), I’m actually writing this on a Friday, just a couple of weeks back. I’ve picked up my paycheck, gone to the bank, then immediately paid off a couple of bastards and begun ruminating about suggestions for my fellow San Diegans or visitors here as to how they might best employ their time this weekend.
I’ve been staring at the cursor for six minutes now and have come to this conclusion: I don’t really care unless it involves sending me money. Hardly likely. There is so much to do for free in San Diego that is aesthetically/recreationally/educationally gratifying that I’ve long since learned that this is the perfect town for Buddhists. One need not want or reject anything here. As the homey-dogs in my ’hood say, “It’s all good, know I’m sane?” Of course you do, and, yes, I’m off my meds. Can’t afford ’em.
Delta Force is on in the background without the sound. It’s best. I’m trying to work here. Still, seems like the perfect movie — but for a Saturday afternoon in a theater rather than a Friday premiere. Ten years after the so-called facts, it was loosely based on the time when the Ayatollah was the boogeyman du jour, in the ’80s, I mean. It was a good one if you had enough Prozac under your belt and still hadn’t quit drinking — even if you were just hung over. Whoa. Hatred: Chuck Norris and Robert Forster hand-to-hand. Holy shit! Neither of them Muslim, yet that’s what this scene is all about as their eyes lock. Eyes full of all kinds of shit dating from the Crusades. Only they’re two white B-movie actors.
I’m going to take a nap now. But first:
Chantix. A commercial for this stuff used to quit smoking. Among possible side effects are “thoughts of suicide.”
I wake up to “I have a structured settlement but I need cash now…call J.G. Wentworth, 877 CASH NOW!” done as a Wagnerian operatic jingle. Perhaps you’ve seen it. A hopeful note if only I’d won that settlement against, you know, the bastards.
Here’s the doorbell. Yes, yes, it’s Halloween, sort of. It is close enough for San Diego. Only no trick-or-treaters this time. This is a neighbor who wants to trade a jar of peanut butter for four local calls on my cell phone. Interesting. I go for it. Still, I sense All Hallows in the air, and it is good. Genuinely frightening this year, as well. The economy. Ever notice how if the media is discussing white people having money problems they’ll refer to “the economy”? If you’re darker than Tony Orlando, then it’s called “poverty.” And I’m right in there. More olive, actually, than Tony, but I have either an economic problem or a condition of poverty, depending on the light I’m in at the moment. At the moment, as I look in the mirror over the sink, just to the left of the desk, I see I am either a pale olive drab or possibly a nauseous ash and pea. Exactly the color of fading money, bills held out between the pocket and the sun in hesitation for too long.
I’m trying to remember some bit of freshman psych I read back in ’67 or ’68 about how the weather, no matter what it may be, can have a salutary effect on the psyche the more it resembles one’s interior landscape or mood. In other words (if it needs explaining), if one is sad, rain or an overcast sky is actually preferable to a sunny day. Conversely, if one is in some kind of manic/cheerleader mood, that same weather will seem antagonistic and wrong. We are a fairly mad species, and there is something about California that is inherently perverse. I believe this, and it may explain much about some entertainment value in this column. Collaborating with California was, early on, a breeze for me creatively. In practical matters it is more…anathema.
The doorbell again. Children well before the holiday, from Hillcrest, with one parent off to the side looking as much like Johnny Depp as pirate as some papier-mâché, Rasta wig, and the missus’s makeup can afford him. I have no idea who these very small children are supposed to be (an amalgam of plastic masks, polyester-chiffon-like blue gauze, and failed parental imagination), and I distribute sealed bags of trail mix. My offerings are met with less than enthusiasm but more than grudging and even polite thanks.
On reflection, I wonder if I have just greeted trick-or-treaters, or was this something from troubled rapid-eye-movement sleep in mid-afternoon? Though I have seen kids out with parents even earlier than this here in San Diego, I must ask myself: was this something I dreamt before tea (which I just finished) and something to do with ten days off meds, or were they really just here? I choose to believe they were, and I have three more bags of trail mix (out of six) to support this reality. The likelihood that I am losing my mind even more fully these days looms hugely, but I am not calling the men in white just yet.
I wonder why I love it, Halloween. It is one of those questions in the category of the unfinished sentence, “One thing is certain and the rest is lies.” If you ever arrive at a definitive answer, I don’t want to know.